So…I’m Engaged Now. Here’s Why

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This wasn’t supposed to happen.

At least, this is not how I envisioned things happening. I’m not supposed to be engaged now. I’m not supposed to be in love. I’m not supposed to be planning a life with someone. I’m not supposed to not be able to envision a future without her in it. But I am engaged. I am in love. I am planning a life with someone. And I am uninterested in envisioning a future without her in it.

None of this was supposed to happen because I’m supposed to be single now. At least, that is what I told myself two years ago. Newly single, I planned on remaining single. I didn’t have a set amount of time to stay single—doing that would have felt too arbitrary and inauthentic—but I knew I did not want to be in a serious relationship again any time soon.

Why? Well, the best and most attractive part about being single is the most obvious. You’re single. Which means you’re free. Often, the activity that can be a product of this freedom is touted as the best part about being single. I disagree. The freedom itself is the best part. The ability to do whatever, whenever, however. And with whoever. Or not. Freedom isn’t dating multiple women. Or eating cereal for dinner. Or staying out until four every weekend. Freedom is just the freedom to do these things if you choose to.

This freedom is intoxicating without any of the side effects associated with intoxicants. There is absolutely no downside to it. None. People often blame bad decisions on freedom. Which is silly. Freedom doesn’t make you do anything. If it did, it wouldn’t be freedom. Freedom doesn’t cause anything. It just is. Blaming freedom for bad decisions is like blaming oxygen for asphyxiation.

This freedom is why I get why some people choose to stay single longer than society would like to dictate. It’s also why, for many of us, the common narratives about why people in our generation (men and women) are choosing to stay single longer than our parents and grandparents did seem all wrong. It’s not about a fear of commitment. Or narcissism. Or selfishness. Or even a lack of love. It’s just that, for many of us, a “free” life equals a better one. The benefits of love and companionship are known, valued, and appreciated. The benefit of being free are just valued and appreciated more.

Anyway, I dated a few women during this free period. I even grew to like one of them very much. Very, very much. So much that when I learned I wasn’t prepared to give up that freedom for her, I started to think it would never happen. I was fine with that. As I said, I planned on remaining single and staying free. But I also planned on not liking anyone that much, and when I did and still felt the urge to be free, I figured this commitment to freedom was for real.

And it was.

Until she happened.

And when she happened, I no longer felt that urge to be free. There was no ambivalence. No second thoughts. No pulling away. No anything else but her.

We were friends. Great friends. Best friends, actually. And then, we were no longer just friends. I know that sounds too simple. And I debated adding details to give the story more meat. To make it more realistic. But that would just obscure the suddenness and the violence of how it happened. One day I was alive. And then the next day the rest of my life began.

I was free before her. But now my life is better. This isn’t a knock on freedom. I was happy. Very happy. Freedom is unbelievable. Freedom is fucking great. It’s just that she’s just so much better than it.

I proposed November 30th. We’ve been together for a year now, which is how long we’ve both known how much we both wanted each other. The ring is just a way to let everyone else know.

None of this was supposed to happen. I thought I knew what I wanted. But it is happening. And I thank God I was wrong.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Five Quick Takeaways From The 300 Sandwiches Internet Shindig

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1. I lucked into my favorite sandwich. I happened to home during the afternoon one day, I happened to be watching Oprah, and it happened to be an episode where she had celebrities on to speak about their favorite foods. Chris Rock was one of the celebrities, and he raved about a shrimp and bacon club from The Cheesecake Factory.

This blew my mind twice! (Yes, I had a twice blown mind!)

A) Shrimp and bacon are arguably my two favorite foods, and it never crossed my mind to put them together!

B) I had no idea The Cheesecake Factory sold anything other than cheesecake!

You see, this episode aired maybe a month or two after The Cheesecake Factory opened their first Pittsburgh-area franchise. I’d hear people talk about going there all the time, and I’d always think “I like cheesecake, but not so damn much that I’d wait an hour for a table just to eat some for dinner. WTF is wrong with people?”

I made sure to go there the next weekend, and, well, let me just say this: This happened eight or nine years ago. In the time since, I’ve been there at least a couple dozen times. Despite the fact that they have a menu heavier than Drake’s conscience, the shrimp and bacon club is the only thing I’ve ever eaten there.

2. This whole hullabaloo reinforces the idea that certain things just don’t translate well to paper. And by “certain things just don’t translate well to paper” I mean “the internet is full of humorless shrews.”

Just take a look at this part in the original NY Post profile.

Each morning, he would ask, “Honey, how long you have been awake?”

“About 15 minutes,” I’d reply.

“You’ve been up for 15 minutes and you haven’t made me a sandwich?”

To him, sandwiches are like kisses or hugs. Or sex. “Sandwiches are love,” he says. “Especially when you make them. You can’t get a sandwich with love from the deli.”

“You’ve been up for 15 minutes and you haven’t made me a sandwich?” has drawn quite a bit of internet-ire. To be fair, this standalone statement does seem rather demeaning. But, while I (obviously) don’t know what’s going on in their relationship, I do know that many couples regularly say jokingly playful shit to each other that, if taken out of context, could be considered offensive. This actually seems rather tame.

For instance, there was a two week stretch earlier this year when the Gay Reindeer and I were on a Kendrick Lamar kick, and “Bitch, don’t kill my vibe” was our default reply to everything. It was nothing for one of us to say “How was your day?” or “Did you pick up some orange juice?” or “I’m going to the gym later” only to have “Bitch, don’t kill my vibe” as the response. 

Corny? Definitely. I am the corniest motherf*cker who ever lived, and I think it’s affecting her by osmosis. But, we thought it was funny, so we did it.

But let’s say she wrote a blog about it. And let’s say that blog was quoted somewhere without any sense of the context.

I’d wake him up, and ask him how his sleep was.

“Bitch, don’t kill my vibe” he’d reply, as he stumbled into the bathroom, leaving me alone in bed.

I’d call out to him again, reminding him to put the cap on the toothpaste or the lid on the toilet. “Bitch,” he’d sneer, “didn’t I already say you were killing my vibe?”

Now I’m an emotionally abusive asshole instead of just a corny one.

My point? J Cole is better for relationships than Kendrick Lamar.

3. Stephanie Smith and her boyfriend were on the TODAY show yesterday. A clip of it showed up in my newsfeed. I watched it.

She seems like a very nice woman who has unfortunately turned herself into one of those characters from one of those J-Lo romantic comedies from a decade ago where she’d play a single woman who was approaching 35 and was driving herself and everyone around her crazy with her need to find a man—any man—before her ovaries fell right out of her vagina and bounced softly into the grass before rolling into a sewer.

And, he seems like a very nice man who, unfortunately for Smith, seems to be the White version of the “Every. Single. Person. On. The. Planet. thinks he’s gay except for her” guy some very successful middle-aged Black women tend to write books about, marry, divorce, and write more books about.

4. While the idea of “earning” a man’s hand in marriage through cheeseburgers and Reubens seems rather odd, I think her blog is cute and creative and shit. I also realize I could just be saying this because of how much I love sandwiches and Black women who make sandwiches. Seriously, if Burger King or McDonalds ever combined the two and made a Black woman sandwich, I’d…well, I don’t like where this is headed, so let’s just move on to the next one.

5. All things considered, I wouldn’t be surprised if this all were some elaborate prank. She does write for the Post, and he does kinda remind me of a villain from Burn Notice, so anything is possible.

I’d write more, but this subject is making me hungry, and I’m growing annoyed that the Gay Reindeer has been up for 15 hours already and still hasn’t made me any damn sandwiches.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

One Woman’s Fear That “Wedding Ring” = “No More Random Male Attention…EVER!”

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***Hello, everyone. Please welcome Chris E. to the VSB pulpit. Since this is her first time, I added a few notes under some of her words to, um, help her out. Who said I wasn’t a gentleman?***

All the excitement of “when is he going to call?”, “I know what this text says literally, but when I stare at it long enough…”, and “why are you hiding in my car?” is done. Over. I jumped the broom into a new world of interaction with men: cordiality, appropriateness, and respect. I am a wife now, a southern preacher’s wife at that. To be admired quietly from afar, left alone with my #turndownforthis stone on my wedding band. It’s lovely and mildly terrifying knowing I’ll only hear Rick James’ “Cold Blooded” ad libs from one man for the rest of my life.

***So yeah. It’s quite difficult to pull off a full paragraph humblebrag—it took me three and a half years to learn how to do it—but Chris E. managed to land it on her first try. Wow. Good job, grasshopper. Also, is it bad that I still have absolutely no idea what any of these “turn down” references mean? Panama tried to explain it to me a couple weeks ago, but I got distracted by a video of someone twerking on a mailbox and tuned him out.***

I’m a former waitress, nightclub bartender, and Oakland resident—a city where ninjas will hop outta moving bus window for the number on you.

***From what I’ve heard about Oakland, I’m pretty sure they’re just making sure you recycle. And, by “making sure you recycle” I mean “asking if you strip.”***

Although I’ve never been dependent on it for validation, those factors made me accustomed to a lot of male attention. I live for the spectacular conversation that comes with being approached. As a screenwriter, it’s a fantastic dialogue resource. I could never come up with Too $hort banishing me from a domino game then walking across the Coliseum parking lot to inform me I put too much mustard on my hot dog on my own. What if seeing my ring suddenly stops all the Playas from the Himalayas from ever speaking up?

***You’re actually the first woman I’ve heard complain about this. Most I’ve talked to seem to consider the whole “guys won’t approach me as often if they see the ring” thing a good thing.***

A married man’s ring comes with the freak train station magnetic field. They instantly look ten times more desirable! My husband gets to motion with his left hand every other syllable in the pulpit and I have to deal with the women who lust for nothing more than their sanctified pastor. How do I stunt on the hoochie visitors if I don’t feel I’m still batting 1000? Can I look forward to keeping my lips pursed on these crows if my only extramarital affirmation of attractiveness from the opposite sex is an elder’s church hug? I’m used to being greeted with “SH*T! GOTDAMN!” Now it’s “Good morning, Sista, so nice to see you, be blessed, tell Pastor thank you for the message.”

***”Boo f*cking hoo.” — says every single Black woman ever. Seriously though, I have always wondered how married couples deal with that dynamic. Generally speaking, as men age and gain more social/financial status, our romantic options tend to increase. The opposite tends to happen with women. (Not always, but often) I can imagine that being a potential strain on a decades-long relationship.***

If this the real reason why Meagan Good wore that blue dress to the BET Awards, I totally get it.

***I get it too. In fact, I have a gallery of those pics saved to Google drive for those late nights when I’m not sure if I’ve still gotten it.***

Hearing “you’re beautiful” from same person all the time, who’s like, supposed to tell you that even when you’re looking like Gina at Martin’s high school reunion, requires a level of self-awareness on a whole nother frequency. I don’t know if I’m that self-aware. I need to be guided by feedback. Roars of applause before my boobs drop it lower than I can without being told on would be much appreciated. I don’t want to reach that Nicole Ari Parker peak wife fineness and be completely oblivious, realizing years later in a clawing panic.

***The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.***

If this is why Rasheeda made a video for “Hit It From The Back” while pregnant with dancers too uncomfortable to touch her while she rapped about fire coming out her asshole, I totally understand.

Newlywed neurosis has me buggin. I keep fearing I’ll turn into the wild auntie that makes everyone nervous at cookouts from unsolicited compliment deprivation. I live in a small town in Arkansas where street harassment is nonexistent… I can’t get a simple “smile, girl!” walking past a bum. I think about my friends and I celebrating our 30th birthday next year and tense up cause I’m not tryna be hit with the “why are you married in the club?!” diss.

***You do realize that this last paragraph gives concrete justification to all the guys who believe women actually appreciate (and need) street harassment, don’t you?” I’m just sayin.***

I don’t wanna be a dime deferred, a ragged raisin solely adored by vows and obligation. Just a flattering echo outside the home, a lil tug on my figurative bra strap, enough to know I still got it. All I ask. A bachelorette party performer named Hena C has traumatized me for eternity. I can’t seek that in strippers.

***”A Dime Deferred” is definitely a great title to a movie staring Monica Calhoun and Ron Artest that I’d never, ever, ever watch.***

Does it make a married woman insecure to enjoy hearing objective baritone fawning every once in a while?

***Yes. But, join the club.***

Where is the line drawn between post-matrimonial fun and post-matrimonial out of pocket?

***You can find more of Chris E. at Christina Wrote That or at some random southern church being subtlety side-eyed because she didn’t know all the words to Goin Up a Yonder***

Three Quick Takeaways From The News Of The Kerry Washington/Nnamdi Asomugha Nuptials

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***Being that this is a holiday (Happy 4th everyone!), I’ll keep it short***

1. Between her star-making role as Olivia Pope on everyone’s favorite source of interracial angst, her turn as Broomhilda in Django Unchained, her commencement address giving, her Michelle Obama BFFing, and her appearing on covers of magazines that haven’t had a Black woman on its cover since Stringer Bell was still alive, Kerry Washington is unarguably the hottest/most popular/most relevant African-American actress working today. It was found out yesterday that she married Nnamdi Asomugha, a multi-millionaire NFL star and Cal Berkeley grad who is known to be one of the best players at his position. He is also the chairman of his own foundation (an organization that earned him a President’s Volunteer Service Award), has appeared on numerous TV shows, and has developed a friendship with Bill Clinton. 

They apparently have been married since June 24th. Shocking news, especially since no one (well, no one outside of their family and friends, I assume) even knew they have been dating.

My point? If these two extremely high-profile people can keep their relationship (somewhat) private, there’s really no excuse for your accountant-ass to ever allow “it’s really tough to date or be in a relationship nowadays cause the city is so small and Facebook and Twitter has everyone all up in your business” to drip out of your extra regular-ass life having ass lips.

2. Nigerians are apparently very happy about this. If you see a Nigerian tomorrow, and they  randomly give you an extra Nigerian hug, this is likely why. Don’t ask questions. Just embrace it, and accept their kind offering of stew and jollof rice.

3. I don’t know either of these people. I don’t know the circumstances surrounding their relationship. And, I don’t know if the relationship is going to last.

But, I do know they started dating last summer. They got married this summer. It didn’t even take a year. This reminds me of something else I know.

When you know, you know. 

And, when you know, there’s no “exploring other options to make sure I’m making the right decision” or “trying to get your stuff together” or “taking a break right now” or “not really being ready for something serious right now.” 

Why? Well, you just know.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Giiiiiiirl You Betta Quit College and Get Yo’ Man Boo!

WTF? Exactly.

WTF? Exactly.

Or something like that.

Yesterday, on a site I didn’t even realize that I’d heard of, the two superfly, debonair brothas of VSB were cited.

Let me take a step back first and address the first part of that sentence as to not seem like I’m big leaguing. A few years back in 2010, the term No Wedding No Womb (NWNW) hit the Internets with the force of an Aretha Franklin bra release. To be honest, I had no idea where it started, what it meant (though context clues helped eventually) or why anybody gave any f*cks about this concept. In fact, it wasn’t until yesterday that I found out that the site, Beyond Black & White, and namely its founder is the one who started the whole NWNW movement. I’m pretty sure Damon wrote about it. I’m pretty sure I ignored it wholesale. I’m gully like that. Point is, I’m oblivious to a lot of things that happen online amongst the reading ninja community. Half of the articles that get people into an uproar don’t cross my radar unless Damon writes about them or some woman I know brings them to my attention. I rarely, okay, I never read any of the sites reading ninjas read to figure out how reading ninjas feel about things reading ninjas should give any f*cks about.

Which brings us to yesterday. I have my Twitter set to send me a text message any time I get a mention. Randomly, I get a text message stating that somebody is talking about as long as women care about marriage people like @panamajackson (Twitter and Instagram, follow me now!) will have a job. I’m paraphrasing but its something like that. I go to check it out and its part of some pseudo convo happening amongst some women referencing us as that site that wrote “Girl, Don’t Get Raped” etc and how we wrote the book cited and how they gave us a full stop after that. Something along those lines. Well I checked the timeline and saw some women arguing about women being told they should sacrifice education for marriage or some such f*ckery. As a f*ckery savant and procurement expert, I had to delve. They linked to some article on some site I’d never heard of…Beyond Black & White.

The name of the article immediately caught my attention as it was supposed to. It read, “Black Women Are Spending Too Much Time and Effort Going to School, They Should Be Spending Time Trying to Get Married”. Dumb ass idea aside, I figured I should read this article. Okay. I have no f*cking clue what the point of this article was and it sure as sh*t wasn’t what the title suggested. But it’s possible I’m just not as smart as everybody else. I can live with this.

But lo and behold. halfway through the article I see a reference to our book, “Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm At Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide To Dating, Mating, and Fighting Crime.”

One dating advice book written by two African-American males is titled “Your Degree’s Won’t Keep You Warm At Night.” In the case of black women, like the Miami, FL based attorney referenced above, their degree’s aren’t even helping them pay off their student debt or maintain a halfway-decent credit rating.

I’d like to send a thanks for the potential new purchases of our book due to this shout-out though in the context of the article and the site I’m pretty sure we got cursed out for being men presumably telling women what else to do with their lives.

Full disclosure, I don’t mind being cited. In fact, it usually kind of rocks. I’d just prefer being included in an article that made sense. I’m still trying to get the general point. The title suggests, quite simply, that women need to close the three ring binder and focus on getting that single Olympic ring. Except that’s such a ridiculous notion I’m not even sure how it got passed editing. Or at least not the way its written.

watermelonThat only makes sense such that every woman views marriage as an actual accomplishment, which perhaps in our educated ninja complex and society, perhaps there’s merit. The regular ninjas I know stay married up though. I know women who’ve been married multiple times. Shoot, a solid 80 percent of the women I went to high school with are married. The only ones who aren’t are also extremely party-centric and ain’t about that married life. I tend to think this marriage problem is a very “high falutin’ ninja” hub problem. You know, DC-ATL-NYC-LA. I could be selling the problem short. I’ll concede this. I have a friend who talks so much sh*t about “DC men” and their commitment issues she might need to start a support group.

But, yes, marriage as an accomplishment. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Secondary to that though is this idea that women have to sacrifice one for the other. Or the higher level of educational attainment causes a sacrifice of marriage points so to speak because of the accrual of debt. And since according to statisitcs Black women are going to college at a higher rate than any other group but graduating at almost a low rate as Black men (the lowest rate of graduation) then women are going to college, accruing debt but ending no better off, so why not just cut out the middle man and focus on trying to find a husband. Or something. Basically, Black women are eschewing marriage for college while hoping to find a husband but losing out in all facets. Which totally blows.

I’m sure there’s some merit in the notion. I just think it was presented in a way that makes no damn sense whatsoever. And I’m sure somebody here will be more than happy to explain exactly how if Black women were smart, they’d go to the gym instead of college (not my opinion, just saying I’m sure somebody will say this). But it also makes it seem like there’s some secret to marriage when the fact is – and clearly I’ve never been married – it seems that for most people I know who are married it seemed like a matter of timing and meeting somebody you loved enough at a time when you were ready to make the leap. And if that’s the case then you can’t just “try to get married”. You have no control over that anyway.

For the record, my sisters, get that degree. It won’t keep you warm at night (this is true) but it can keep your heat on. Trust me, I’ve got without heat – I had no degree at the time – and that sh*t sucked tremendously. Yes, we’ve all mostly accrued debt due to our educations and yes that sucks. And yes financing one’s education often screws your ability to be the superstar you dreamt of. This is a common struggle. I just don’t see how this article truly explained how women getting degrees ruins their chances to get married. I don’t see how the two ideas were related in a way that made sense. And that would be all well and good since I read LOTS of articles that make THE dumbest links ever. Hell, I’ve written stuff that made no sense myself. Difference is, 90 percent of the time I’m doing it on purpose.

It would be all well and good if I ain’t see my brand associated with it. That’s no bueno. Not on an article that is going to make the rounds because everybody thinks its shawt bus shawty. Though that’s not really true. I read some of the comments to try to understand the article and it seems that many people think its a great article. I’m rambling since I don’t agree. So while I don’t mind being cited for better or worse (see above) I’d still prefer to be cited in something that at least made sense.

I wrote this whole post to say #shotsfired.

Do you think it makes any sense? Forget that, do you think there’s anything to the idea that women should stop trying to get those degrees mayne and should just start focusing on getting marred (assuming all women want to get married since, well, that’s the definite leap made in the article). Let’s just pretend that all the assumptions in the article are true or something. Hold me.

PJ out.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. 1400+ aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3